Monday 23 September 2013

Monday Morning...

I write this in the conference hall as the debate on "Britain's Global Role" continues (worth watching on BBC Parliament.

Since I last posted, I've attended a number of interesting events. Last night I attended an event on legal services. Again I filmed most of the short speeches - and they should appear in posts from later on this week. The issue of access to legal advice as a "Rule of Law" matter - and the practical problems that individuals and Courts are facing as a result of legal aid changes were stressed.

The vote on which issues will be debated as contemporaneous motions saw a large amount  of support for the legal advice motion but missed getting into the successful four.

The Association of Labour Councillors held their reception, and there was an excellent turnout - both from members and front bench speakers.

This morning I attended a breakfast round table held by Diabetes UK. Some of the facts highlighted were mind-blowing .

* 10% of the NHS budget is accounted for in treating Diabetes. 
* Of the £9.8bn spent each year, 80% goes on dealing with avoidable complications. Spending more on health education; identification of those at risk and those with Diabetes; and treatment - saves a massive amount of the costs needed for dealing with those complications.

It is worth visiting the Diabetes UK website - and if you or your loved ones are in a risk category - go to your doctor to be tested. Limbs and lives can be saved by exercise, an appropriate diet and medication.

The sad thing is that the incidence of diabetes is increasing. There are clear links to diet, exercise and obesity. The epidemic can be tackled - but it is not just an issue for healthcare professionals and decision makers. A safe environment for playing, walking and cycling can play a key role in avoiding developing diabetes, or if like me you have already been diagnosed, in pushing away the more serious consequences. Honesty in advertising and clearer labelling can help parents understand that the apparently 'healthy' breakfast cereal contains a dangerous level of sugar. In my view self regulation has failed miserably with food manufacturers; advertisers and retailers. There is increasing scientific evidence of the dangers and addictiveness of high fat, sugar and salt products - yet Cadbury's are able to link eating their sugar laden products with 'joy' - to increase standard sizes, and many retailers still cynically put temptation at child level height and near the queue for the checkout.

At lunchtime I intend to go to a meeting about the European Parliament. This evening I have a frustrating clash of fringe events - if only it was possible to be in three places at once. I'll be posting later on what I did get to attend.

If you are reading this at Conference, I'd encourage you to consider attending the fringe on "Legal Aid in Crisis - What Should Labour Do?" (Lord) Willy Bach ['fightbach' on twitter] who led for Labour in the House of Lords in opposing the Legal Aid legislation that was pushed through Parliament (LASPO Bill); Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Attorney General - and front line providers of legal advice, assistance and representation will be speaking. It is on at 17-30 in Lancing 2 in the Holiday Inn.